Common Swim Terms

AGE GROUP SWIM MEET - all USA Swimming registered swimmers, 18 years of age and under, who have met the qualifying time standard for a specific event(s) are eligible to participate in these meets.  Swimmers are awarded by pre determined age groups.   Age on the first day of competition shall govern the entire meet. (See also: Senior Swim Meet)

AGE GROUP SWIMMER – We consider non High School swimmers as our age group swimmers. 

VA - the official abbreviation for Victory Aquatics

CHECK-IN (POSITIVE CHECK-IN) - The procedure required before a swimmer swims an event in a meet. Sometimes referred to as positive check in, the swimmer must see the check in desk or meet admin and have their name marked on a list to confirm they will be racing.  Failing to do so will mean the swimmer is not seeded in their entered event. 

CIRCLE SEEDING - Used only in the prelims of Championship meets with events that have "prelims & finals". This affects only the top 24 seeded swimmers (8 lane pool) which compete in the last 3 heats. All other heats are regular seeding. Circle seeding goes like this: The fastest seeded swimmer will be in the last heat in lane 4. The second fastest swimmer will be in the second to last heat lane 4. The third fastest swimmer will be in the third to last heat lane 4. 

IM (INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY) – A race done by an individual swimmer consisting of one equal leg of each of the competitive strokes - butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle - in that order.

FINALS  - the session of a meet after prelims at a prelims/finals meet. It is generally swum in the evening. Finalists are determined by the fastest swimmers in the preliminary rounds usually swum earlier that day.  The number of finalists depends on the meet.

HEAT SHEET - a listing of all swimmers by event number, heat, and lane assignments in the meet.

LONG COURSE POOL - a type of competitive pool which measures 50 meters in length. This is officially  an "Olympic sized pool", this is the length the Olympics are held in.  Seniors can compete in Long Course at any time throughout the year while Age groupers typically have a Long Course season of March to August. 

PRELIMS (PRELIMINARIES) - in certain meets, the qualifying rounds held for each event determine the finalists.  Usually the morning before the finals at USA Swimming meets.

PROOF OF TIME - a requirement at some meets to make certain that all swimmers have legally met the time standards for that meet.

PSYCH SHEET - a ranking by seeding times for all the swimmers entered in each race of a meet.

MEET REFEREE - the USA SWIMMING official who has the authority over all other officials at the meet. He makes all final decisions and sees to the efficient running of the meet.

SEEDING TIMES - the time a swimmer uses to enter a meet. This time usually determines one's heat and lane in the particular event.

SENIOR SWIM MEET - A meet that allows all USA SWIMMING registered swimmers regardless of age who have met the qualifying time standard for a specific event(s) to compete.  Usually the time standards are of a challenging nature. 

SENIOR SWIMMER – Swimmers that meet the Senior Swim Meet qualifying standard. 

SHORT COURSE - a type of competitive pool, which measures 25 yards or 25 meters in length.  In American swimming it will almost always be 25 yards.  Age group swimmers short course season usually lasts from September to February while Seniors short course season varies on the level and age. 

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SWIMMING, INC. - the name of the Local Swimming Committee (LSC), charged by USA SWIMMING to govern competitive swimming in Southern California from as far north Santa Maria to Las Vegas in the east and lower Orange County in the south.

SPLIT - an incremental time that may be in the results and that coaches often record for teaching the concept of pacing. For instance, a swimmer's time for each 50-yard leg of a 100-yard event is the splits.

STARTER - the USA SWIMMING official at a meet responsible for starting each heat and calling the next to the blocks.  Starters rotate throughout a meet.

STROKE JUDGE - a certified USA SWIMMING official, who determines the legality of swimmers' strokes and disqualifies those who do not conform to USA SWIMMING rules.

SWIMMING WORLD - a monthly magazine with articles and stories about competitive swimming as well as some regional and all national meet results. Write Swimming World / P.O. Box 45497 / Los Angeles, CA 90045.

TIME STANDARDS - certain qualifying times which have been set up for events of meets to insure that all competitors are of reasonably the same ability in their respective meets. The swimmer's goals should be the betterment of his time progressing through White, Red, Blue, and all the way up to Olympic Trials.

AGE GROUP NATIONAL TOP 10 - a tabulation of the Top 10 fastest swimmers for each age starting at 11 and ending at 18 in individual events and relays in a given competition year.  The final list is published in the Fall of each year for the previous year and broken down into Short Course and Long Course. 

TOUCH PAD - the part of an electronic timing system that rests in the water at the finishing end of each lane. Swimmer's times are electronically recorded when the pad is touched.

UNATTACHED - the status a swimmer receives when not representing a club or changing from one USA SWIMMING club to another. A swimmer must be "unattached" for 120 days from their last competition with their previous USA SWIMMING club. During this time they may compete individually and train with the club but are not eligible to score points for a team or swim relays. 

USA SWIMMING - The governing body of Age Group and Senior Swimming in the United States. National Headquarters are in Colorado Springs, Colorado at the Olympic Training Center. 

USA SWIMMING # (ID) - the personal registration number of each athlete member in USA Swimming. The formula for deriving your USA SWIMMING # is: birth date (6 digit format MMDDYY), first three letters of the first name, middle initial, and first four letters of the last name. For example: John A. Smith was born September 1, 1959. His USA SWIMMING # is 090159johasmit